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Ancient Celtic Coin Art

1 INTROduCTION Iron Age coins are the least studied artefacts of Celtic art yet are paradoxically one the best sources for learning about preChristian Iron Age beliefs. Much Celtic art tends towards abstraction and patternmaking, but in the more figurative and narrative style of coin art, it becomes easier to speculate on possible messages that the artists and designers intended to convey. Money is essentially magical, and, when decorated, the imagery is the real source of its power and influence. It is this imagery that transforms the basic metal disc into a thing that transcends its intrinsic value or usefulness as raw material before the adoption of coinage the Iron Age peoples of Britain had useful currency like rings of bronze or iron bars that could be turned into practical objects. The imagery validates the function of the coin by invoking powerful, magical objects, beings or events. Each tribe or nation thus reveals its most important beliefs regarding power, status and its sense of identity. Iron Age artists took contemporary and ancient examples of coin art and wove in layers of new meaning, transforming and redefining the vocabulary. Celtic coins are very small. All their rich and powerful imagery is packed onto a thin disc often little bigger than a fingernail. Patient and openminded examination reveals aspects of the Iron Age psyche that we can still see within ourselves todaythe dynamics of power, influence, status, identity and belief. a. b. c. d. e. f. spirit helpers feature greatly in celtic coin art
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